Example Essay Structure

Your Name

Ms. Garvoille

Honors English I, 1

24 May 2016

Clever Title


            Hook connecting to your reader’s life. Your hook should relate to your thesis statement on your prewriting in some way. Transition to Romeo and Juliet—remember to italicize the title. Describe the basics of the scene you are writing about. Transition to give the basics of your artwork. Describe the artwork in 2-5 sentences as if to someone who has never seen it being sure to name the artist and title of the work. Thesis statement something like, The artist shows the _____ of this scene well/poorly.


Topic sentence that supports your thesis—something like, Mercutio’s war imagery creates a belligerent tone central to the theme, which is present in Prokofiev’s music. Make your first ASSERTION about the war imagery from the play. Provide CONTEXT for evidence by describing what is happening in the play at this point. Give a short piece of EVIDENCE from the play to support your point about imagery (cite the quote with act, scene, and line number like this: 1.4.45-46). INTERPRET how the evidence shows that belligerent tone by focusing on a specific word or phrase. This can go on for up to 3 sentences. TRANSITION to discussing the artwork. Make an ASSERTION about whether the artwork supports that literary device or not. Provide CONTEXT for one detail, for instance, “in the recording at about 3:21.” Then give your EVIDENCE, for instance, “the French horns and violins alternate playing the same motif.” INTERPRET how that detail supports/contradicts the literary device you described in the previous paragraph—for example, “That alternation suggests two sides fighting, warring back and forth with sound.” Conclusion sentence restating whether or not the artwork successfully showed the device and TRANSITIONING to your next point.

REPEAT THE PREVIOUS PARAGRAPH FOR YOUR TWO/THREE MAIN COMPARISONS. You may decide to make the previous paragraph into two paragraphs instead of one.

REPEAT THE PREVIOUS PARAGRAPH FOR YOUR THREE MAIN COMPARISONS. You may decide to make the previous paragraph into two paragraphs instead of one.

Restate your thesis in new words—something about the success or failure of the artwork. Review all of your evidence in a sentence or two—how did or didn’t the artwork relate to the devices in the play. Explain why the devices in that scene are key to understanding the play as a whole. You might add another sentence explaining what a viewer would think about Romeo and Juliet if this were his only interaction with the play—what misinterpretations would he have? Is this version actually better than Shakespeare’s in some way? Now connect this essay back to the reader’s life, either by returning to your original hook idea, or proposing a new idea.

Works Cited


Artist last name, first name. Title of Artwork. Location, year. Print/Web.

#1 SOOHYUN’S EXAMPLE ESSAY – Musical Theater

Written in the Stars

Stargazing is gradually becoming a dying art. No, I’m not talking about the stars from Hollywood (this type of “star-gazing” is in fact gaining millions of followers every year); the stars I’m talking about are the fiery balls of burning gas billions of miles away. Ursa Major, Cassiopeia, Sagittarius, Cygnus, Leo. The stars that shine down on Earth on clear summer nights– the same stars that appear above the balcony in Shakespeare’s most famous play, Romeo and Juliet, as well as above the terrace during the song “Tonight” composed by Leonard Bernstein from the film West Side Story (1961). In Romeo and Juliet, the two lovers are reunited under the stars on Juliet’s balcony after their initial meeting at the party a few hours earlier. They exchange their vows of eternal love before making plans to get married the next day. In West Side Story, Tony (Richard Beymer) and Maria (Natalie Wood)  meet at night and perform a musical duet about their love together on her fire escape. Both works tell a similar tale of love and loss, but “Tonight” lacks key elements of Romeo and Juliet.  Although “Tonight” from West Side Story is successful in representing the characters and symbols found in the balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet, it fails to incorporate the themes of a doomed fate and inevitable catastrophe.

It’s immediately obvious that the directors of West Side Story created Tony and Maria to almost exactly mirror Romeo and Juliet in appearance and personality. To begin with, consider Juliet’s character. Maria has the same sweetness and girlish innocence as Juliet. Juliet is all “maiden blush[es],” “angel[s],” and “stars” (II. ii. 91, 29, 15). She’s still a “rose” (II. ii. 46) at “the bud of love” (II. ii. 128) and is not ready to be “deflowered” (IV. v. 43) yet. Maria is much the same, as is immediately apparent by how vulnerable she looks in her flimsy lavender nightgown. The crucifix hanging at her throat also labels her as an obedient servant of God. Her eyelashes flutter when she looks up at her dashing Romeo with eyes full of love. To Tony, she sings, “Nothing else but you, ever,” in the same way Juliet says “But trust me, gentleman, I’ll prove more true” (II. ii. 105). Similarly, Tony is identical to Romeo in the fact that both are hopeless romantics who have the power to bring a young girl’s life crashing down before her eyes. In “Tonight,” Tony woos Maria by calling her a miracle: “Today. . . I had the feeling a miracle would happen. I know now I was right.” (Cue swoon from Maria.) Romeo also uses sweet words and a little poetry by saying Juliet is “so bright that birds would sing and think it were not night” (II. ii. 22- 23) He sees Juliet as something that is heavenly and miraculous too, not knowing that he will be the one who puts out her light. Despite the difference in setting, both Tony and Maria accurately portray the characters of Romeo and Juliet– the tall, handsome ladies’ man and the sweet innocent rose. The flawless translation of Shakespeare’s original characters to the new characters in West Side Story brings this centuries old tale and its characters back to life.

There are also elements that are always constant no matter how many centuries pass. The sun, moon, and stars, which have been symbols of power, mystery, and the divine since the beginning of time, are referenced in both Romeo and Juliet and “Tonight.” In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo compares Juliet to many celestial objects. “Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven… to twinkle in their spheres,” compares her eyes to the stars (II. ii. 15, 17). In an attempt to prove to Juliet that his love is true, he also says, “Lady, by yonder blessed moon I vow” (II. ii. 112). Tony and Maria make their own references to the stars and moon in lines such as, “What was just a world is a star,” and “With suns and moons all over the place.” The stars play such a big role in both of these stories because stars often symbolize fate.

In the midst of soaring melodies and upbeat tempos, much of the confusion and reluctance seen in Romeo and Juliet is lost in “Tonight.” Tony and Maria just sound too certain, too enraptured in one another when they sing, “All the world is only you and me.” This contrasts with how at least Juliet, if not Romeo as well, always seems to have the expectations of her parents at the edge of her mind. “Although I joy in thee, I have no joy in this contract tonight. It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden,” (II. ii. 123-125) she says to Romeo. She clearly states that she loves being with Romeo, yet she cannot commit fully to their relationship because it is most certainly “unadvised” by her parents. Two sides of her are at war: the obedient daughter versus the rebellious, lovesick teenager. Also worth noticing is that Juliet tries to get Romeo to leave by repeating, “Good night, good night,” over and over again. It adds up to a grand total of seven times, plus a thousand if you count the line, “A thousand times good night” (II. ii. 166). She is repeatedly trying to end their conversation and get him to jump back over the walls to safety. Maria saying “tonight” is rather a parody of Juliet’s “goodnight” because it shows that she is so immersed in her infatuation that no other time but that night matters to her. She “saw [Tony], and the world went away.” This in no way reflects the internal conflict that plays such a crucial part in the balcony scene. Whereas Juliet begs Romeo to leave by saying, “If my kinsmen do see thee, they will murder thee,” (II. ii. 75), Maria throws caution to the wind and blinds herself to everything but Tony.

The balcony scene is the start of all the problems that lead up to Romeo and Juliet’s death in the final act, and many of these problems are a product of Juliet’s desire to please everyone (her fatal flaw of sorts). She doesn’t elope with Romeo because her parents would have been furious. She doesn’t marry Paris because Romeo would have been unhappy. And, finally, she chooses to take a sleeping potion so that she won’t have to explain to her parents that she had done something that they would have strictly forbidden: marry their mortal enemies’ son. Through Juliet’s character, Shakespeare shows us that it’s not possible to please everyone without losing your life, and that your own choices will lead you to your doom. By leaving out this side of Juliet in Maria’s character, the directors of West Side Story have lost that part of Shakespeare’s play. Maria is happy with the choice she makes, and she believes everything will turn out well in the end. She sings, “The world is full of light,” unlike Juliet, who sees the dark clouds rolling in. This small alteration in the attitude of our heroine greatly lifts the feeling of impending doom off  the audience. And it has to be said that Tony and Maria’s ending is not as catastrophic as that of Romeo and Juliet’s. Although Tony is killed, Maria lives in the end, albeit a widow. Therefore, the moral of West Side Story is not that fate is inevitable no matter how hard you try to change it, but that with enough fortitude, it is possible to cheat a predetermined end.

There’s nothing more glorious than a star-filled sky. It gives people like Romeo and Juliet, or Tony and Maria, hope that anything can happen on a beautiful summer night. However, while Maria and Tony hold on steadfast to that hope, Romeo and Juliet fall into the twisting paths of fate. Although at first glance, Tony and Maria seem to be reincarnations of Romeo and Juliet, they take on very different attitudes when faced with the the expectations of society. Juliet and Romeo are more conscious of reality while, in contrast, Maria and Tony are absorbed in their dream world. Ultimately, West Side Story leaves out the much debated question hanging over Romeo and Juliet: is the story of the two star-crossed lovers a tale about the purity of true love, or lesson to young people about what happens when they step out of the boundaries set by society? This question will leave scholars searching for the answer in the story that, like the stars, will be observed and wondered at for centuries to come: the story of Juliet and her Romeo.

Works Cited

Bernstein, Leonard. Tonight. Perf. Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer. West Side Story, 1961. MP3.

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992. Print.



Mourning the Morning

In every relationship there comes a time to part. This is true even for the ‘idealistic’ teenage love of Romeo and Juliet. During Act III scene V of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet it is dawn on Tuesday, and Romeo and Juliet are saying farewell on Juliet’s balcony before Romeo must leave for Mantua. During this scene the two share their last living kiss. Sir Frank Dicksee illustrates this scene in his painting Romeo and Juliet, made in 1884. In the painting Romeo and Juliet are kissing as Romeo descends her balcony. The two have their arms wrapped around each other, and the early morning light is shining on their faces. Dicksee’s painting captures the general tone of the scene, the desperation to stay together, but fails to show and even misrepresents other important aspects of characterization and motifs, such as purity and time, that appear in the scene and connect the audience much more deeply with the tragedy.

Dicksee’s painting is very successful in capturing the tone of reluctance in Romeo and Juliet parting scene. The painting positions Romeo and Juliet clinging to each other as if they are trying to say together as long as possible, which is demonstrated in the text when Juliet says, “Therefore stay yet: thou need’st not to be gone,” (III.v.16) while she tries to convince Romeo that the birds they hear are nightingales, birds of the night, rather than larks, birds of the morning. In this Juliet is attempting to create the illusion that they have more time together. In Dicksee’s painting the placement of Romeo also adds to the feeling of reluctance. Romeo is placed with one leg over the balcony, but with all of his weight towards Juliet. Dicksee may have taken this from Romeo’s line, “I have more care to stay than will to go,” (III.v.23) which shows that he would rather die than be parted from Juliet. Dicksee’s attention to ethe emotions in the scene shows in his painting, as it very effectively captures Romeo and Juliet’s reluctance to part.

However, the painting Romeo and Juliet is misleading in the characterization of the two lovers in its use and placement of symbolism. Dicksee painted potted white lilies lit up by light, and surrounded by the dark shadows of Juliet’s room. This emphasizes the flowers to the point where they are almost more eye catching and important looking than the focus of the scene: Romeo and Juliet. Traditionally, white lilies symbolize the ability to be yourself, and purity. Romeo and Juliet are neither. They are both lying to the people around them, hiding how they feel and who they truly are, to keep their relationship a secret, shown by the Nurse when she says to Juliet “Your lady mother is coming to your chamber. the day is broke, be wary, look about,” (III.v.39-40) warning Juliet about the possibility that her relationship to Romeo may soon be discovered. In addition, the implication of purity created by the lilies is particularly jarring because the text hints that Romeo and Juliet had married, and even spent the night together in direct opposition to their families’ wishes, confirmed by Juliet when she asks Romeo to “Deny thy father and refuse thy name, or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love and I’ll no longer be a Capulet” (II.ii.34-36). This shows that Romeo and Juliet can’t be together because of their families, but are willing to betray their family and friends for their lover. Dicksee’s placement and emphasis of white lilies in the scene leads to inaccurate characterization of Romeo and Juliet.

Dicksee is also unsuccessful in portraying one of the main motifs that appears in the scene: the power of time. Shakespeare uses light and dark, or day and night, to show the influence time has over Romeo and Juliet’s relationship, and eventually their fate. In this scene Romeo personifies the dawn when he says “Jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops” (III.v.9-10). By giving the dawn human ability to act he gives the dawn a sense of power. Shakespeare also gives time agency when Romeo states “More light and light it grows; more dark and dark our woes,” (III.v.36) which seems to imply that as the dawn breaks and the amount of light increases, the more obstacles appear for the two lovers.  Dicksee fails in showing the power of time and its relationship to light, dark, day, and night because he painted dawn as clearly established, with light already completely filling the sky. This reduces the impact and contrast of light and dark in the scene. Dicksee’s negligence involving his portrayal of the time of day this scene takes place results in the loss of impact that time has in the scene, how its absolute power can tear two people apart.

Sir Frank Dicksee’s 1884 painting Romeo and Juliet is successful in portraying the love and desperation that Romeo and Juliet feel, but his inclusion and emphasis of white lilies in the scene could lead to misrepresentation of the characters. Dicksee also overlooked one of the most important aspects of the scene, the idea of time, by painting dawn as fully established. While Dicksee’s painting is beautiful, it is only basely faithful to the play. This contrast between Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet and Sir Frank Dicksee’s painting Romeo and Juliet is problematic because it misrepresents Shakespeare’s characters, reducing the emotional impact of the tragedy.  The true emotional connection for the audience occurs when they see Romeo and Juliet as flawed characters, real people. This allows the audience to empathize with the lovers, and eventually grieve more for their death.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. London: The Arden Shakespeare, 2008. Print.

#3 TARA’S EXAMPLE ESSAY – Theater/Film

Without a Trace . . . of Shakespeare

Ever get sick of that teenage, gushy, ucky, and annoying love? Hate the typical, and expected Romeo and Juliet immature love story? So does Ashley Walters. Walters is an English rapper and actor, who in 2011, did a Shakespeare learning challenge for BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) in which 10 British celebrities were challenged to perform one of the speeches that the Off by Heart Shakespeare set speech list offered.  Walters acts out the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, in which Romeo and Juliet profess their love for one another. His version of  act 2 scene 2, “What Light through Yonder Window Breaks,” leaves no evidence that he wants her out of lust, a contrast to the flirtatious and rushed love from the play, which changes the theme completely.

Romeo is supposed to be playful and courageous, the opposites of serious and shy. Walters fails this. While speaking, Walters often pauses and takes deep breaths. This makes you think, “ Oh my gosh, is Romeo second guessing himself? He isn’t obnoxiously love struck at all like Shakespeare says he is.”   For example, in Shakespeare’s version Romeo says, “Call me but ‘love,’ and I’ll be new baptized” (II.ii.50). This statement is bold, and proclaims his love for Juliet. He would baptize himself and get rid of the name his own mother gave him! He says she can call him love and will never have to call him Romeo if that is what she wants! How crazy is that? It does not hide itself from her like Walters’ version does. When I first saw the monologue I was in love with how he portrayed Romeo, but quickly realized that it contradicted Shakespeare’s tone. Walters owns the shy Romeo in this situation and his voice helps him greatly, but he fails to master Shakespeare’s tone.

Shakespeare characterizes Romeo as a very forward, lustful, knows what he wants, kind of guy and Walters does not. By proclaiming his love for Juliet through sayings like, “ Alack, there lies more peril in thine eyes, than twenty of their swords,” (II.ii.71-72) or “ Oh wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?” (II.ii 125), Romeo makes sure the audience knows he is a man of action versus inaction, being Walters. When Walters was portraying Romeo’s character he used the beginning monologue only to convey his feelings for Juliet, but not to put forth any action. “Proclaiming” his love turned into a meek and mere want of Juliet. For the most part, he keeps the volume of his voice low and speaks gently about Juliet, and he also uses his eyes to look into the distance which is a sign of want and wish compared to action. Walters also has Juliet’s light from her balcony shining on his face for the first minute of the scene when he shows a breakthrough of confidence, but then he loses it and the camera follows him as he sits down by the wall and hides into the shadows of the night. Walters as Romeo doesn’t seem to be bold like Shakespeare characterized him to be.

The theme  of this artwork being love takes time and does not boast or race, battles Shakespeare’s version with a romantic, sincere, nervous theme. In Shakespeare’s play, Juliet forgets why she called Romeo back and he states that he’d, “still stay to have thee forget, forgetting any other home but this,” (II.ii.175-176). How annoying is that? Seriously, she forgot why she’s there so you will stand there till she remembers it because you love her that much. She’s not going to remember either because she wants you to stay. Then it turns into the phone tag game, that we all know of,  ‘you hang up first, no you hang up first, no you!’ Finally we just say, “get a room.” This is how their love is portrayed. It is not some weak, behind the scenes, waiting for the right time, kind of portrayal. Romeo would do the dumbest, silliest things just to be with juliet and make her happy. He does not hide from afar and wish he could love her. The way walters act to portray his theme is also different than Romeo. Walters also uses a prop, his hood, to convey when he is shy and when he is not. At the beginning of his speech, when he sees Juliet, he considers speaking to her, but  quickly throws his black hood over his head and returns to the darkness of the night, hidden by a wall. This is no action of Shakespeare’s Romeo, the annoying, love struck,teenage boy. Ashley Walters gets the theme way wrong in comparison to Shakespeare’s; therefore, Romeo is perceived as a different person.

Ashley Walters portrays a shy, sincere Romeo, which is completely different than Shakespeare’s flirtatious and lustful Romeo. He should have been more like a teenage boy who just got swept off his feet by love; therefore, becoming more successful in conveying Shakespeare’s emotion. Romeo and Juliet is a quick love story in which they die in the end! It is obviously an important lesson on what not to do unless you want speedy love and quick ends to “true” romances. It’s insane to think that Walters got his inspiration from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, considering Walters creates a completely different character who is quiet and meek but says the same words Shakespeare wrote for romeo. In regard to age though, Shakespeare is obviously a lot older than Walters,  so can we conclude that the shy and more reserved version of Romeo is really what the  young, modern society sees this love story as? Or is is what the greater cultural expectation of a relationship is? Either way, Walters portrayal of Romeo would probably result in a marriage and “Happily ever after.” So men on the hunt, if you want the fairy tale ending and a long happy life, I suggest you watch and take some notes from Ashley Walters.

Work Cited

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. New york, NY: Barnes & Noble, 2007. Print. April 15, 2013.

Off by Heart Shakespeare. BBC, 2011. web. April 16, 2013.


The Consequences of Juliet

Say you’re at a party and you fall in love with a wanted criminal. Your parents are the police and they are dead set on catching this law-breaker. Would you joyfully meet this person anywhere? Or would you be cautious in seeing them? Romeo and Juliet have to exercise this same caution because their love, like that of you and the wanted criminal, has consequences. Late Sunday night, after the party at the Capulet house, Juliet stands on her balcony contemplating her love for Romeo aloud, unaware that he is waiting just below. During this scene Romeo and Juliet state the problems of their forbidden love and the fact that their families’ dispute is only a name. Taylor Swift portrays this scene in the song “Love Story” from 2008, where Juliet pursues Romeo after they meet at the party. This country ballad is written like a love song, in the reminiscing lyrics and cheerful mood. The tempo is fast and upbeat. These two pieces both depict Romeo and Juliet meeting in secrecy, but the tone and lyrics of the song do not accurately portray the conflict and vitality of the original story.

First of all, Swift’s song does not precisely reflect the plot of the balcony scene. In changing the situation and the sequence of events she causes Juliet to seem like the one going after Romeo in the relationship. Though this effectively uses modernized gender roles to appeal more to teen girl audiences, it doesn’t necessarily represent Romeo’s infatuation for Juliet. However, this does accurately portray Juliet as being the one to ask Romeo if he loved her. In the play Juliet believes that if Romeo loves her, he should marry her. She says “If thy bent of love be honourable, Thy purpose marriage, send me word tomorrow”(II.ii.143). The same idea is mentioned in “Love Story” with the phrase “It’s a love story baby just say yes,” but Romeo is the one to ask for Juliet’s hand in marriage.

The tone and speed of the song also stray from the concept of Shakespeare’s work. Yes, the story does fit the fast pace of a tragedy, but it varies a lot from the peppy nature of the song. In the song, there is a fast tempo and joyful mood during the chorus and the majority of the verses. These musical techniques carry across a light mood that doesn’t show the urgency and forbidden nature of the love represented by the original play. The play is meant to be a tragedy, but the aloof mood of the music in the song implies that there really aren’t any consequences to their meeting. When Swift says the line “We keep quiet ‘cause we’re dead if they knew,” it seems insincere because it is backed by a    contradicting mood in the music.

This song also uses cheerful and reminiscent lyrics, which further imply a non-serious tone in the song. This also goes against the play’s tragic and urgent mood. It also implies that this song takes place after the tale of Romeo and Juliet had ended, and that the two lovers had survived the chain of events that were told in the story, instead of meeting their tragic demise.

Swift’s song, though the names of the characters are the same, and some scenes similar, barely shows any of the relevant emotions or mood in the tragic story of Romeo and Juliet. The fast, upbeat, and joyful tone created by the lyrics and tempo, and the optimistic modern approach to the scene, make it cheerful and bright, rather than tragic and ironic. If you based your knowledge of Romeo and Juliet on this song would you even know that their was forbidden? Maybe you wouldn’t even know that they both died because of it. It seems that the story told in “Love Story” is a completely different one from that of the original play. Could you ever imagine a happy upbeat song about falling in love with a wanted criminal?

Work Cited

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. New York: Dell Publishing Co.,1982. print

#5 ALETHIA’S EXAMPLE ESSAY – Classical Music

The Other Side of the Picture

You’re leaning against the wall at a party being held at a friend of a friend’s house and it’s midnight. Being the observant and slightly stalker-ish person you are, you silently watch the people dance and converse in front of you while you keep to the shadows, either inserting words into their moving mouths or contemplating whether they’re a person worthy of your approach. For Romeo, it’s a late Sunday night when he and Juliet meet for the first time at a party thrown at the Capulets’ house. After admiring Juliet’s beauty from afar, Romeo admits his love for her, pulls her aside, and they share a kiss. Sergei Prokofiev characterizes the people in this scene with the score “Dance of the Knights” written in 1934 for the ballet Romeo and Juliet. The score was recorded in November 2008 performed by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev. In this performance, the music starts out with an ominous, heavy, and dark tone seeming to characterize the Capulets and Montagues. It then crescendos but suddenly drops to a light and gentle melody. It then flows back to the somber pattern from the beginning. Afterward, it resumes the staccato and elegance of the lighter tune. But it doesn’t last long before slowly creeping back to the gloomy and drawn out music. Prokofiev’s use of characterization with music for the Capulets’ personalities is somewhat successful, but limited only based on the history of their rivalry with the Montagues, instead of them as individuals.

Prokofiev manages to convey the binary between the Capulets and the Montagues versus Romeo and Juliet’s indifference about the rivalry between the two families. Juliet realizes close to the end of the scene that Romeo is a Montague saying, “My only love sprung from my only hate!/Too early seen unknown, and known too late!/Prodigious birth of love it is to me,/That I must love a loathed enemy” (I.v.136-138). As Juliet realizes that Romeo is of her father’s rival family, she still admits her love for him, not letting the situation sway her feelings for Romeo. Romeo, also realizing his predicament, says, “Is she a Capulet/O dear account! my life is my foe’s debt” (I.v.115-116) after professing his love for her. Though his realization of love for Juliet is sudden after just meeting her, he doesn’t let the differences between the two families keep him from chasing after her. In general, Prokofiev is correct with the tone he uses in showing the binary between the two families and Romeo and Juliet’s desires for each other, and it helps distinguish the difference between the desires of the families and that of Romeo and Juliet.

Prokofiev is successful in symbolizing and transitioning into different groups and characters that attend the ball scene so that the listener is able to tell just who the music is focused on. Romeo describes Juliet “like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear;/Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear” (I.v.44-45). The beauty of these words is also equal to the melody of the music, giving it similar qualities. He also continues to say that Juliet is “a snowy dove trooping with crows” (I.v.46). These set of words have a tense and condescending feel to them, as Juliet is compared to the rest of the crowd. Similarly, the music constantly switches between  the staccato, sweet, lulling melody, symbolizing the love Romeo has for Juliet, to the dismal and bleak tone, symbolizing the Capulets’ and Montagues’ hate for each other. Prokofiev is successful in the symbolization of the characters in the ball scene so that it is still clear for the listener to understand.

Prokofiev fails to capture the personalities, through personification with music, of the Capulets as individuals, and instead depicts them as a whole; this gives some of the characters a negative preconceived notion, sometimes unfairly. In Act I, scene v, Lord Capulet gives off an aura of excitement and cheer saying “you are welcome, gentlemen!–Come, musicians, play.–/A hall, a hall! give room! and foot it, girls.–” (I.v.23-24). For someone who hasn’t met Lord Capulet personally, he gives off the impression that he is an easily approachable and warm man. Again in Act I, scene v, Lord Capulet dismisses Tybalt’s insistence of telling Romeo to leave the ball, hence him not being invited and being a Montague, saying, “content thee, gentle coz, let him alone,/he bears him like a portly gentlemen” (I.v.63-64). Though Lord Capulet is aware that Romeo is a Montague (and not invited), he permits his presence at the ball, showing that Lord Capulet isn’t a man who lusts for the blood of the Montagues. In contrast, Prokofiev’s music starts out heavy and severe, giving it an old and aging feeling, representing the Capulets’ character. Though Prokofiev’s use of personification was not entirely mindful of the characters’ individualities, he was successful in distinguishing them.

Although Prokofiev’s “Dance of the Knights” portrays the differences and binaries among the people in Shakespeare’s scene, it does not give most of the characters justice. It fails to capture the individualism of the people, and instead focuses on them as a whole. If the song has a bit more diversity instead of constantly switching back to the same tune, the characters’ personality will not be set in  stone. The audience will be able tell that that character does not always act that way; they can decide whether they have a good or bad side. That is often shown throughout the play Romeo and Juliet. Romeo may be portrayed as a dreamer and a lover in this scene, but later it is shown that he does have a dark side. The juggle of emotions and personalities is repeatedly shown, like in the scene and music, throughout the play as each character shows a different side of them and not being the same person as they were in the beginnning of the play.

Work Cited

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1963. Print.


A Break of Sanity or a Broken Heart

We all have had that break of sanity causing us to lash out at the littlest things, and even possibly caused someone their life. What if it affected how we are interpreted by others? In William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Romeo has this break of sanity, likely caused by grief. In act V scene iii Romeo lashes out at the unlucky Count Paris, killing him with one quick swipe of the sword. Though Romeo is there to only harm himself, the mixture of grief and desperation causes Romeo to lash out. On the other hand in the film by Zefferelli Romeo and Juliet: The Tragedy Romeo doesn’t have this conflict with Paris and only harms himself in the last scene. The film fails to illustrate the complete break in sanity Romeo has experienced before his suicide, leaving the viewers to lose out on understanding the baggage Romeo brings to his death. Killing Paris gives Romeo even more of a reason to kill himself because he has to worry about his death, Tybalts, and partially Juliets. In Shakespeare’s original play, Romeo’s state of mind affects the audience’s interpretation of him as a character who is driven to murderous extremes out of grief; Zeffirelli’s film only shows him as a boy driven mad by love.

Because Romeo is in an agitated depression in the play, it affects the reasoning behind Romeo’s suicide and the life of Paris. Paris provoked the ill-minded Romeo, causing him to die which results in him putting the baggage of his death on the already suicidal Romeo. This is present when Paris confronts Romeo outside the Capulet tomb on Wednesday night. When Romeo pleas to Paris, “By heaven I love thee better than myself. For I come hither armed against myself” (V.iii.64-65). By having Romeo plea this statement to Paris it makes him seem only a grieving teenager on the verge of a thoughtless rage than a suicidal kid. Paris’ death plays an important role on how you portray Romeo because without it, he seems to dramatic and it changes the whole scene plot.

In the movie Romeo’s suicidal mind doesn’t affect any person’s physical death except his own. Romeo, is not a love struck teen but is instead, a suicidal teen on the break of sanity since he was pushed enough to kill Paris. One example of this effect is when Romeo walks straight into the tomb instead of running into Paris. As Romeo walks into the tomb he walks in and talks to Juliet. By having him just walk in instead of fighting Paris makes Romeo a suicidal teen not a broken person. Paris’ life has important consequences for the reader’s border of understanding Romeo’s characterization because it gives a purpose of Romeo’s suicide rather than just a depressed person or an obsessed teen.

The director of the movie fails to show Romeo’s correct state of mind by letting Paris live, thus failing to communicate the theme that Shakespeare had intentionally planned, quick love will never last. The director uses the absence of Paris’ death to show that Romeo and Juliet were over dramatic teenagers who, in the end killed themselves over nothing. One example of this appears when Romeo walks in the tomb and sees Juliet, and stands there preaching his “love” to her. When the actor Leonard Whitting (Romeo) emphasizes the phrase, “ Arms, take your last embrace!” By using the word “last” and repeats it time and time again, implies that he is only a desperate teen fallen in love too quickly, resulting in a quick untimely death. Although William Shakespeare had intended for Paris to die for a reason the way the director portrays it is completely off to what it should explain, that he was depressed not obsessed.

Shakespeare’s Romeo has a state of mind that strongly affects how you the reader would interpret his characterization and scene plot. Because of his depression in the play it makes him seem like just a depressed person with no way out and pushed to the point of homicide and suicide, whereas in the movie his actions only affect himself . Since the director fails to show the correct state of mind Romeo is in, it affects your entire assumption of him as a character. Now that you understand that his state of mind does affect the story, you won’t have to think that he is just some schizophrenic looney rather the truth, a depressed kid who was pushed to far. In this play about love and death you get the feeling of being lost and found over and over again, like a wheel spinning predicting your life’s next fate.


Do you Believe in Love at First Sight?

In romantic movies, the girl drops her books and the guy bends down to help her and their hands meet and the bird noises go off in their head. Well, when Romeo and Juliet meet they see each other and are instantly “in love.” The next thing you know they are kissing and want to be see each other all the time, yet they don’t even know each other’s names. Late Sunday evening at the house of Capulet, Romeo and Juliet start their speedy relationship. The Prokofiev ballet Romeo and Juliet, performed by the company Ballet Philippines in 1977 portrays the main parts of this scene but the ballet fails to display Romeo and Juliet’s immaturity, which is key to understanding the theme of the play: don’t rush into love.

To begin with, the immature characters don’t take the warnings of other characters seriously. For example, Capulet does not listen to Tybalt. On Sunday evening when the Capulets party is going on and Tybalt spots Romeo, their enemy, at their party. Tybalt and Capulet argue because Tybalt thinks that he should not be there, and Tybalt says “To strike him dead I hold it not a sin”(I.V.47).  This phrase shows that he is being immature and saying that if he were to kill Romeo it wouldn’t be a bad thing because it is “technically” Romeo’s fault for being at the party. Another character who ignores warnings is Romeo, who ignores the Nurse’s warning about Juliet being a Capulet. Given that Romeo freaks out when he finds out that Juliet is a Capulet, Shakespeare is trying to show that Romeo knows something bad could happen but he chooses to ignore his fears. When Romeo talks with the Nurse he realizes who Juliet really is and he exclaims, “O dear account! my life is my foe’s debt” (I.V.50). By saying “my life is my foe’s debt” gives foreshadowing by hinting that his life will be owed to his foe, he dies because of his foe. This is important because it shows how they are immature and don’t listen to the warnings given to them.

However, in the ballet, the characters do listen to their friends. In the ballet the dancers imply they are mature and they listen to others. One example of maturity appears early on when Capulet asks Juliet to dance with Paris and she listens to her father and willingly dances with him. Even though she is not found of him she dances with him anyway instead of being immature and saying, “no I’m not dancing with him” just as she did in the book and said “He shall not make me there a joyful bride.” As Juliet begins to dance she just walks right up to Paris and hold out her hand to him. By her doing this it shows that she is mature and not like a kid whining about what she doesn’t want to do.  In the ballet Romeo listens to others, Romeo is pulled away by Mercutio. Mercutio pats Romeo on the back and gives him a smile, like he is happy that he has moved on from Rosaline, like he had said earlier in the play when Romeo had ignored him. Romeo says “Alas that love, whose view is muffled still” (I.I.15) This describes his maturity because he listens to Mercutio and takes his advice. This portion of the ballet when Romeo listen to him implies that he is a mature adult. The characters in the ballet are mature and know what the right things are to do but, in the play they are not as mature as they are in the ballet.

In the play, Juliet isn’t mature enough to whether or not to kiss Romeo. Shakespeare shows her hesitation to suggest that she is not completely able to make her decisions on her own. The first time Romeo and Juliet have an encounter Romeo is very interested in Juliet and wants her to kiss him, he tries to convince Juliet to kiss him by comparing it to prayer. Juliet says, “Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer” (I.V.49) By saying this it implies that she is trying to not let him kiss her. Saying that they are “lips they must use in prayer” it shows that she does not want to cross with religious with love, so she is trying to think of excuses for Romeo not to kiss her.

However, in the ballet this immaturity is lost: Juliet dances with Romeo right away. Given that Juliet does not hesitate to interact with Romeo it show how mature she is. When Juliet is dancing with Paris, Romeo walks up to her and gives her his hand and they begin to dance, she does not wonder if she should dance with she just does. This show that she knows what she wants and is mature enough to do what she wants. When Romeo wants to kiss Juliet she kisses him back right away. During the dance Romeo leans in to kiss Juliet and she kisses him. This implies that she mature to be taking that step in the relationship and also that she knows what she wants. This is really important because it shows how the ballet makes them seem mature enough for love but the play implies that they are not.

In the play, Romeo and Juliet move quickly into an immature relationship they are not ready for. When they first meet, Juliet exclaims, “And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss” (I.V.49) By saying this it is kind of like she is insulting herself just so that Romeo will compliment her. This makes her sound like she is going into a fast high school relationship.   After Romeo has left and Juliet and the Nurse are speaking to each other, Juliet says, “Too early seen unknown, and known too late” (I.V.52)! By her saying this it is saying that now that she is “in love” with him she can’t not be. She says “known too late” by saying this it shows that she means she found out too late that he is her enemy. So she says well its too late there’s nothing we can do now, even though he is my enemy and we only met 10 minutes ago it is too late because I’m in love with you. This shows that she really justs wants to be a relationship just to be in one which shows her immaturity.

Even though they Romeo and Juliet move fast in the play it is not the same in the ballet.  The dance is drawn out and the music is sturdy. The dance is very long and beautiful, especially when Juliet dances alone in front of everybody. The way that she dances alone shows that she is able to be on her own and do well. She does very complex moves that requires many skills. Such as, Arabesques, Jeté, Chaînés and Fouetté. Her solo is two minutes long meaning that she wanted and was able to know what she wanted to say so she took her time doing it. When she lifts her long leg and holds it up there is a long held out note in the music. This implies that she is taking her time for everyone to “hear” what she has to say.This is important because Juliet is not mature in the play so for her to “be on her own” would be different for her.

The ballet portrays the characters in a very mature way but in the play they are very immature. The characters in the play don’t listen to each other and in the ballet they do listen to each other. The play shows the characters in an immature way and in the ballet shows them as very mature. Romeo and Juliet move too fast into their relationship in the play but not in the ballet. This is important because it is the theme of the play don’t rush into love. If you don’t understand this then you probably don’t really understand the play. So just because the second you see someone you hear birds in your head doesn’t necessarily mean that you are “in love.”